New Hampshire

Support Local: Make Yourself at Home in the Great North Woods Region This Winter

Local hospitality businesses offer warm, laid-back accommodations after long days of playing in the snow.

By Yankee Staff

Feb 14 2021

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Tall Timber Lodge

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Tall TImber Lodge
Learn more about how New Hampshire’s Main Street businesses are caring for their customers in our “Support Local: Go the Extra Mile” series, which includes regular e-newsletter articles as well as regional videos. Sponsored by the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism. It’s hard not to feel like a modern-day explorer when traveling to the Great North Woods Region of New Hampshire, where forests cover approximately 90 percent of this remote area tucked up against the Canadian border. For more than a century, sportsmen have been drawn here to fish in sparkling lakes and hunt in woods that teem with wildlife, while recent years have seen many other kinds of outdoors lovers flocking to the Great North Woods to experience New Hampshire at its most wild and beautiful. The region’s remoteness also makes the hospitality of its lodges and inns all the more welcome.
Even as the Great North Woods Region has been drawing an increasingly diverse group of outdoor tourists, snowmobilers are a mainstay in the winter — and with its prime lakeside location, Tall Timber Lodge is a favorite destination for many sledders.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Tall TImber Lodge
It was partly a love of the outdoors that led Tom Caron’s parents to purchase Pittsburg’s Tall Timber Lodge in 1982, with Caron and his siblings taking the reins as co-owners about a decade later. Today, Tall Timber features a mix of lakefront and woodsy cabins, and rooms in the main lodge, as well as full-service dining at its Rainbow Grille & Tavern; it also offers guide service and boat and snowmobile rentals. All of this gives Caron a broad perspective on how the pandemic has affected business owners in his region. “The lodging businesses seemed to have a very good year upon reopening … people wanted to get into the outdoors once they were allowed to travel,” says Caron, who notes that last July, August, September and October were all “banner months” for the area. But the story has been different for restaurants, he says, which have had to deal with social-distancing recommendations that cut down on seating capacity, and customers who were perhaps reluctant to go back to dining indoors. With an eye toward safety for both overnight visitors and dining guests, Tall Timber made a number of Covid-related changes to its operations before reopening last summer. Caron’s brother, David, constructed a plexiglass booth at the check-in desk to protect both customers and staff; he also created an extensive takeout menu for the restaurant. Meanwhile, their sister, Cindy, instituted deeper cleaning policies for the housekeeping staff. The common areas have largely been closed, check-in and check-out procedures are now contact-free, and Tall Timber invests in lots of PPE (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.) for guests and employees alike.
The main lodge at Tall Timber, which first began welcoming guests in 1946.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Tall Timber Lodge
“We want the experience of staying at Tall Timber to be as ‘normal’ as possible, and while we can give people many parts of that experience, it is still not going to be the way it used to be,” Caron says. “Instead, we would like to see our guests have fun while having a safe time, and not jeopardizing the experience of other guests or our employees. The vast majority of our guests have complied with our wishes — and a gentle reminder goes a long way if someone doesn’t.” Caron notes that the local Chamber of Commerce has been a strong resource during the pandemic, as it helped obtain PPE for area businesses and communicated policy changes recommended by the state. Business owners have also aided one another by sharing Covid information and supplies. And as a whole, the community has been very supportive, he says. “People are constantly checking to see how we have been doing since the pandemic began. I think there is genuine concern for our business, since it is a big part of the community and indicative of the overall economy of our region of New Hampshire. … If we’re not doing well, that’s not a good sign for the entire economy up here.”
Electronic and disposable menus and contactless credit card payments are now the standard at Tall Timber’s award-winning Rainbow Grille & Tavern.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Tall Timber Lodge
Beyond just expressing concern, many locals have continued to dine regularly at the Rainbow Grille and have bought gift cards too. And while the lodging side of the business relies on out-of-towners, Caron says, it gets plenty of “word of mouth” support from residents. “‘Community’ is an important concept in the small towns of northern New Hampshire,” he says. “You get to know nearly everyone in your town and some of the surrounding towns too. … There does seem to be many people with different backgrounds here, especially those residents that have moved here from other places, [but] the common denominator for everyone seems to be a love of the outdoors, whether it be in the summer, fall, or winter.” Thinking of planning an overnight stay in the Great North Woods? Here is a sampling of locally owned businesses that are open and ready to take your reservation! Find more options at visitnh.gov/places-to-stay. At Bear Tree, Pittsburg Lopstick, Pittsburg Deer Mountain Lodge & Wilderness Resort, Dummer Colebrook Country Club and Hotel, Colebrook